Monday, December 29, 2008

Good Crew

I'm so thankful for our church staff. I was gone this past Sunday to Ft. Worth to see my sister and the family and to do Christmas and got back today. It was great to call and talk to a couple of the staff after church on Sunday and hear that church services went really well. It's great to be able to be away and not have to worry about the church missing a beat. Our church staff works hard at doing their best for the Lord and His church. I'm glad to have such a good team! Praise the Lord!

I had a great time in Ft. Worth. I could tell so many stories, but I need to get back to working on my sermon for this Sunday. This Sunday's message will be a challenge for the new year for every believer. I'm also going to talk about our purpose as God's church and what needs to be more of our focus in the coming year. New Year's is always a good time to start fresh with new ideas and a renewed vision for the future. My prayer last week and this week is that God will prepare the hearts of His people to receive His Word. We need to be about His business even more. I pray that people are open to that message this Sunday.

I thank God for my family, my friends, my church and His love and patience with me. God is so good. We should not ever forget that, especially as we turn over the calendar this week.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Get-up

I live in a house full of women. I love all of my girls. But let me tell you something about little girls that every man needs to understand. They have get-up!

What is get-up? Get-up is the term that I have coined for their duds, ya know, their stuff. Girls have lots of stuff that they think they need and want to take everywhere. (Maybe that's why they carry purses!)

My girls were cleaning up to leave the house tonight and I told them to gather all of their get-up. Abigail (my 3 almost 4 year old) just starting laughing and said in her own cute sort of way, "Ya, daddy we got lots of get-up." I laughed out loud! Madalyn reacts negatively when I say it. She gets angry sometimes. I ask her to pick up or clean up her get-up and she always says something like, "It's not get-up. It's my precious things, daddy!" in that whiny sort of way.

No matter how you look at it, girls have a lot more get-up than boys. They accessorize. They have more equipment. They pack more for trips. They are always into their duds. They have lots of stuff. They carry bags of their stuff. Well, you get my point.

So when you see me "loading out" at the church, understand that 70% of it is probably get-up. I'm just the special man that God has put with these wonderful girls! (And they truly are wonderful!)

I am blessed better than I deserve. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

It's the day before the big day. If you're shopping, you're hopeless right now. Wal-Mart will take you an hour just to get in and out of the parking lot, and that's without making it into the store! It's pretty crazy.

I'm excited about Christmas. My wife is so good at making it so special. It will be fun watching the girls open their presents. Amy and I got some really good ones that I think the girls will like.

Tonight is our Christmas Eve service at the church. This is a great family event. We sing Christmas carols, have a short devotion about the reason for Christmas, and then families take communion together. It will be a great time of reflection about Christmas. This is always one of those "highlight of the year" type of events. We don't have to invite or really push, and we usually have 250+ people there.

I think that's because people are looking. They are looking for meaning in this season. They want to encounter the Christ child in the manger. They want to understand the meaning of it all. I enjoy being a part of the service and my whole family looks forward to the meaning and experience.

The passage that I'm talking about tonight is Galatians 4:4-5. You might think, what's that got to do with Christmas? Look it up. It's all about Christmas. I'm going to be talking about how God has adopted us as sons and daughters. But to do so, He had to send Jesus to redeem us. The definition in the Greek of the word for "redeem" used in verse 5 is interesting. It means to buy back or buy out and was often used to refer to slaves being bought out of slavery. That's the essence of Christ coming. He came to buy us back to God.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bowl Picks

I was invited this week to an ESPN bowl championship pick 'em contest. I have a lot of fun with these, especially playing against the my brothers in the Lord from the church. I enjoy trying to pick the games, and ranking them by the confidence of the pick. I'm thinking, maybe we should do this church-wide for the guys next year. It would be a lot of fun and bring about some camaraderie around the guys.

I'll let you know the results after the league is over (Jan. 8th).

I've only got 2 more things to say: Let the games begin & Boomer Sooner!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Been a week

I think that the devil really stinks sometimes. Actually, all the time. He's always stirring the pot for the saints, trying to distract, discourage, and disengage God's children. I know that our church staff collectively and individually has been under attack this week. It's got everybody down and rather grumpy really. Isn't this the "most wonderful time of the year"?

No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, the devil is doing his thing. In Romans 7, Paul talks about the struggle between doing what God wants and the sin that the devil wants. He says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Lots of "do's" there, but have you ever been there yourself? Have you ever wanted to do the right thing, but you feel like the devil is right there with you, bringing you down? Paul goes on to say, "So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me." But at the end of Romans 7 he says, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

When you're under attack, whether from hurtful, spiteful people, or temptation to sin, your hope is in Jesus. He is the one that will get us through. He is the one that will sustain us. He is the one that wants to rescue us.

Our our job is to turn and run to Him and to do our part by obeying His word.

It's been a week...I'm doing my best to make sure that there isn't another. (Thank you Lord!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Weather Is Great!

I was born in southeast Iowa and spent the first 5 years of my life there. I love winter and the weather that we've been having lately. Most people complain about it, but I truly enjoy it. That's one thing you've got to love about Oklahoma. You may have the HOT summers, but you get to have some cold winters too. You get all four seasons here in true fashion and I like it. If you think about all that goes on with the seasons, you can see the case for the Creator all over it.

I like winter and cold, what can I say? I like fireplaces and snow, bundling up and snuggling with my wife and girls to keep warm. Slick roads are actually fun if you know how to drive on them. Don't worry about me, just worry about the lady behind me. I've already avoided 2 soccer moms that nearly rear-ended me in line at Glenwood by leaving some space for me to move up if needed. People just need to slow down (or get 4 wheel drive, it's great!)

Guess maybe it's the Iowa in me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ultimate Compliment

I had the ultimate compliment yesterday. After church services I was eating at a restaurant with my family when someone from our church came over and talked to Amy and I for a bit. She began by telling me that the message was great. She went on and on about how much she had learned, how much she'd never really thought about, how she really began to understand and see God's hand in all of the Christmas story, how God orchestrated every detail to work it out perfectly for His divine plan. She even said that I could have preached longer because she was disappointed when I stopped (and I was kind of windy anyway, HA!). She also went on to say that while she was on her way to the restaurant after church, she called her mom and told her to listen to it online because she thought that she'd learn a lot from it. Her comments truly blessed my heart.

I am humbled. I can take no credit for the message yesterday. That was God's message for all of us, even me. What I got to do yesterday and every Sunday that I preach is simply share the excitement and knowledge that I have received from studying God's Word. When you take the time and study the Bible, you can see His hand in so many things. The Christmas story has so much more there if we study and pay attention. Give God all the credit; give Him all the praise. It's His story...I just get to share it with people on Sunday mornings.

Affirmation is a good thing for anyone. I'm glad that God sent that affirmation my way yesterday. I'll keep mining for the nuggets of truth and sharing them with God's people on Sundays.

If you happened to miss it, you can listen online on the church's website:
http://www.oakwoodchristianchurch.org/sermons The messages are all sorted by date.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eric & discipline

I'm stealing Eric's blog to share some funnies on him for once :)

Abi pulls Izzy's hair (what there is of it). Eric tells Abi "that is not what hair is for"! "It is to look pretty not to pull"! I wonder if that is what God was thinking when he gave us heads of hair. Ever wonder what hair's purpose is? Well, there ya go! What words of simple wisdom offered to our 3 yr. old!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Know What's Caused Our Economic Problems

Want to know what the problem is with the economy? Was it subprime lending? The car makers weren't entrepreneurial enough? America just lost it's edge? Supply and demand imbalance? The mortgage bubble popped?

It's simple. It all boils down to one thing. I know, you are excited about the answer, but I'm going to let you sweat a minute here. Whether it's the big 3. Whether it's banks and mortgage companies and the people who run them. Whether it's the federal government and their horrible policies and laws. Whether it's the corruption of the CEO's of big companies. It all boils down to one thing and one thing only.

You want to know, and I want to tell you. What are you thinking right now? What could it be? Your Sunday School answer may be that we need Jesus. And we do! The problem in its simplest form is only one thing...greed.

It's greed, that's the problem. We like our stuff. Greed. The CEO's getting $10,000,000 Christmas bonuses. Greed. The banks lending money to people to buy houses that they can't afford so they can make more money. Greed. The government putting pressure on those banks and mortgage companies to make the loans to these people so that "every American can own their own home". Greed. Buying things that you don't have the money to pay for. Stupid, whoops, I mean greed! You name the economic problem, it will all trace back to some form of greed. Everytime. I guarantee it.

Maybe I should write a book about this and make some money? (he,he,he,he!)

I'm just remembering that God is here to meet the need and not the greed.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 "1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Tuesday Funny


Looks like he's been waiting for some time. Better just forgive and move on, brother!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Too funny. The 7 year old goes around harassing the 3 year old about where she puts the ornaments on the tree. Which reminded mommy and I about Madalyn when she was 3. The only child at the time hung all of the ornaments on one branch. So, we gently reminded her of that time and she got much quieter about the decorating infractions.

The girls are so excited to decorate the tree. They've been asking us about it since the Friday after Thanksgiving. Fun days. These are the type that I think you must miss when your 50ish and become empty nesters.

Better get back at it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Shopping Blues

Amy and I went shopping for the girls in OKC today. It was supposed to be a really fun day! The fun was ruined when we made our 2nd stop at Sam's Club. The "big" present that we were going to get for the girls, that we'd had our eye on since we were down at Sam's in October, that we now had the money to pay for it, was gone! (Ya, I know that was a "run-on" sentence, but it's MY blog!)

Anyway...needless to say, big disappointment. So then we went to the glorious Toys R Us to see if they had it. Nada! Target? Nada! Wal-Mart? Nada! Another Sam's perhaps? Nada! We were so disappointed! Talk about ruining your day. We were kicking ourselves for not buying it in October! (You'd think that with the economy being "so bad" that we would have seen 10 of them at Sam's club, but that was not the case!)

Anyway, dejected and disappointed, we came home tonight and began the online search. When we googled it, there were many stores that had it, including Wal-Mart.com. So, long story short, we found it, bought it as a "special buy" from Wal-Mart for $25 less than we were going to pay at Sam's Club, which covered the cost of the shipping to get it here by Christmas! Wow! Amy and I are in better spirits. The great shopping scare of 2008 is over and we survived.

Isn't it amazing how we can sometimes sweat the small stuff and then let it get to us?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Maddy's Friend

I picked up Maddy and a friend of hers from school this afternoon. As we drove from Glenwood by the church toward our house, Madalyn piped up, "That's the church where my daddy preaches." I took the opportunity of asking her friend if she and her family attended church anywhere. She said no that they only go to church once a year, usually at Halloween. Then she went on to say that they usually come to our church for Halloween.

That cracked me up, but was really cool too. Our Festival of Light is an outreach to families. That's this little girl's only experience with church, as far as I know. And she went on to say that they come every year and that she loves it. That's a positive impression of church. Maybe we will be able to build a bridge to this family since our daughters are beginning a friendship. Madalyn invited her to church tonight, but her friend has some activity going on. I'm proud of Maddy for being a light and inviting friends to church. Makes me want to do the same. Personal invites and evangelism are where its at. Now, if we could just get our adults to get after it!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Nose over your toes

I was making a hospital call this morning and I saw one of our church members in the rehab unit. One of the nurses came in and asked him to get up because they were giving him a shower before they brought breakfast. As he was getting out of bed, he leaned forward to get over his walker. He didn't lean far enough and fell back on the bed. The nurse said "Hey, remember to get your nose over your toes!" When he did that, he stood right up on his own power.

That line has stuck with me all day. Too funny, but a good thought as well. He had to get his nose over his toes to lean forward enough to stand up on his own. In many ways, this reminded me of the spiritual journey that many Christians are on. We think that we are ready to stand, but we keep falling back because we don't do things right. The "good physician" is saying to us, "Nose over your toes" as we try to stand up on our own. If we do it right and do it His way, we find the power to stand and it gets easier when we follow the directions and simply do what He asks.

So, what is He asking you to do right? Nose over your toes in your thoughts? Nose over your toes in your marriage? Nose over your toes in your daily Bible reading? Nose over your toes so you can share the gospel?

Whatever it is, chuckle at the line but remember that God is wanting us to live His way. Nose over your toes may help you get out of bed tomorrow, or it may help you finally obey God in a certain area. Regardless, when we follow the directions, and do things the right way, we will stand with the confidence of God. Get your walker ready...now your moving!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

OU wins & attendance booster idea

Well, OU pulled it off! Boomer Sooner! Hats off to the cowboys for giving it their all. They are about 5 players away from being a real contender.

I got some ideas from a fellow Sooner fan and church member on how to increase our attendance at church. May be onto something here...think about it:

1. We're going to replace our cushioned pews with steel benches and remove the backs (Our elders will have backs for rent.)
2. We're going to make people sit very close to each other. Especially close to those we don't even know.
3. We're going to take the top off the building. There must be something about having a top on the building that keeps people from coming in.
4. We're going to have someone holler real loud in the loud speaker. I guess that will be me since I am the preacher.
5. Oh yeah, one last thing. We're going to make everyone pay $150.00 to get in, even before they know the outcome. The average in attendance at college football games is 81,000. You know, I think we would settle for 81,000 at church. Oh, one more thing. We're going to change our services to 3 hours instead of one and a quarter. Boy, with these changes, you'd better come early next Sunday in order to get a good parking place. (The elders may charge for "good" parking.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is the big day. Thanksgiving is a great time to focus our selfish hearts on God. Too bad we can't do that throughout the whole year. I think often that this shouldn't be an annual event in the believer's life. Thankfulness should be a non-stop everyday occurrence. A true believer's heart will always be grateful to God.

Sunday night our church had it's annual Thanksgiving Dinner. It's a great time of fellowship and focus. We offer a time of "open mic" if you will. At this time people come up and express how thankful they are to God for something that He's done in their lives in the past year. Some ladies from a women's shelter and rehab center shared their stories of life change. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. We got to witness true thankfulness through their stories of God's redemption and goodness.

I shared a little at the end about what I was thankful for. I shared some stats from our church, not for bragging rights or any accolades for any man. These are God's stats. These are stats that show how good God is to people as He changes them for eternity. We had a total of 108 decisions in 2008. That 5 times what we had in 2007. We've had 28 baptisms in 2008. That's 4 times what we had in 2007. We've had 27 families join our fellowship this year. That's 2 and 1/2 times the families that joined in 2007. As you can see, God is still doing His amazing heart work in people. These, lives, souls, saved and changed forever, are something to be thankful for.

God is doing His wonderful work in our church. I'm most thankful for that!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bible Belt

I've been watching all of the doom and gloom of economic news every day. I think that it's hard to avoid it if you are an American. It's everywhere. I've heard several financial analysts over the last few days that say the economy is not as bad in the south, southwest, and midwest. The housing market in these places aren't bad, in fact, some are still growing. Last night on Fox News, one guy mentioned that things are horrible in New England, California, Las Vegas, but that places like Dallas, Houston, and Oklahoma City and other places in the center of the country are actually doing okay. I found this very interesting. He went on to say that on the coasts, everybody is frantic and panicked about the economy and finances, but in the Bible Belt center of the country, there's concern, but no one's freaking out about it.

I wonder...is that because the good 'ole Bible Belt states have faith? Could it be that God is taking care of His people? Maybe it's just that when Jesus is your Lord, things like the economy aren't eternal so Christians don't waste time worrying about temporal things. Or perhaps God is supernaturally taking care of the Bible Belt folks.

I don't have all of the answers. I do know that when I heard the interviews and saw the report, it confirmed a lot of what I had been feeling myself. Things aren't that bad in Enid, OK. We have several business people in the church that I've spoken with over the last few months that confirm that things "aren't that bad here!" Praise the Lord! God is taking care of us, period! Whether He's taking care of this part of the country in a supernatural way by sustaining our businesses, or God's people just don't sweat the economy because our faith is in Him, God is seeing us through. Just as He always has, God takes care of His people.

Let me clarify that I'm not saying that God is pouring judgement on California or something. Just a few weeks ago, the great people of California passed an amendment known as Prop. 8 to most of us that protects the sanctity of marriage. There are some great, great brothers and sisters in the Lord that live in these places where the economy is bad. I'm not saying that God is absent from their lives or situations. He may be supernaturally protecting the Christians in those places as well! I'm just pointing out what I see and hear about the economy is not that true for here and I want to give God the glory for that. Go Bible Belt!

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Look out!


Too funny! I'm glad that we don't have that problem at Oakwood!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bible Survey Results

On Sunday in church I took a survey using our communication card. I asked the question, "What version/translation of the Bible are you bringing to church to study from each week?" I asked our people to write it down on their card. The results were much as I had anticipated they would be:

NIV (New International Version) 62.1%
NLT (New Living Translation) 9.5%
NASB (New American Standard Bible) 8.6%
NKJV (New King James Version) 8.6%
KJV (King James Version) 7%
NCV (New Century Version) 2.6%
AMP (Amplified Bible) .8%
ESV (English Standard Version) .8%

Overwhelmingly the NIV's took the cake. Since 1978 when the translation was completed, the NIV has been the standard bearer for accuracy of translation and universal understanding of God's Word. In our Bible colleges, the NIV is the Bible of choice by scholars & professors. The Bible colleges use this primary version as the core instruction for students, even after 30 years. In Christian Church circles, almost 95% of Christian Church pulpits preach from the NIV each week.

I've been in a personal debate about what Bible I should read from on Sunday mornings. When I study, I usually look at the NIV and the NASB side by side. I preached from the NASB my first few months here at Oakwood. Sometimes the wording of the NASB can get pretty thick. The NASB is a word for word translation and the NASB translators tried to maintain the word and thought order as much as possible. Sometimes that means that you have to read it 4 or 5 times to fully understand the meaning because the sentence structure is hard to follow. I like the NASB because where else can you find words like "propitiation". I don't want to lose some of those words that give the text rich meaning. In my personal study time, I usually use the NASB.

My tentative plan is to preach/read from the NIV in the pulpit on Sundays. I'm not conforming to the popular vote or from any pressure. My heart is that people would be able to follow along and understand what we are reading on Sunday mornings. When I find richer meaning or better explanation or understanding from the NASB, I will site those words or verses and use the NASB then. But by in large on Sunday mornings I will read from the NIV because I want people to be able to follow along with me as we read and talk about God's word. My hope is to educate, challenge, and preach for life change each and every week. I believe in my heart that it will be most helpful to meet most of our people where they're at and read from the NIV. I will be using the NIV primarily from the pulpit, unless God leads me otherwise in the days ahead. I'm probably making a bigger deal out of this than it should be, but I have to keep the flock in mind as we strive for education and life change. Sometimes I think that works best when people in the pew can follow the Bible reading word for word, especially when we get into long passages.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Flying Solo

Amy is at Women of Faith and I'm flying solo with the 3 daughters. My girls are pretty good for the most part, truly. But...they are girls. Girls are just different than boys. They cry about everything!!!! There's long hair everywhere! In the bathroom, in the car seats. It's crazy. But I love them all and wouldn't trade them for anything.

In the morning, Madalyn has a birthday party to go to. Problem: I don't do cute hair. It's going to be very interesting to see how my 7 year old reacts to daddy's hair style. Might want to pray for us there.

The sermon I've been working on this week is good. It's amazing how much it can change from Sunday night to Thursday every week. I honestly go into the whole process with an open heart and mind and all ow God to guide it as I study and develop. I've thought about blogging the process sometime, but I don't know who all would find that interesting. If you want me to, leave me a comment to that effect and I'll take it under advisement. Or I may pray about it and do it anyway, Lord willing.

I got to get to bed soon. One last read through my sermon and I'm off (that is if I don't fall asleep in my read through)! Ha!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Much talk

I've had many conversations this week with people concerned about the world coming to an end, Jesus' return, rapture, Armageddon, you name it, I've heard it. I think that I'm not overreacting to anything because I truly believe in God's sovereignty. He knows what's going to happen. He knew what's already taken place was going to take place. Nothing surprises Him. He's God. I'm just trusting that He knows what He's doing and He's going to take care of us His kids no matter what. I don't know if the economy will turn around now, in 6 month, or in 4 years. I don't know what's going to happen between Israel and Iran. I don't have to know. I trust in the name of the Lord our God. That's all I need. I pray that for any who that really struggling with worry about these days ahead will rest and trust in God. If nothing else, now is the time to figure out in your heart whether you are really going to take God at His word or not. My prayer is that everyone who has ears to hear will listen and accept Christ. Then trust Him to be on the throne and be our God. We must be as faithful on our end as He's called us to be. That's what people of faith do.

Keep the faith!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Anatomy of a Tax Cut

Hope this helps everyone to understand. I got this via e-mail from a friend today.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $18; the tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day; the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a "Tax Cut"). "Since you are all such good Customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man (who was paying $1) and the sixth man (who was paying $3) would end up being PAID to eat their meal.

So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so the fifth man paid nothing; the sixth pitched in $2; the seventh paid $5; the eighth paid $9; the ninth paid $12; Leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man, but he, (pointing to the tenth) got $7!".”Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar too...It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!” "That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2?" "The wealthy get all the breaks!” Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" So, the nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! And that is how the tax system works.

The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction because they paid the taxes in the first place. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy and they just may not show up at the table anymore. Where would that leave the rest?

Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straight-forward logic!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Some comments from David Reagan (No relation to Ronald)

From Mr. Reagan:

"Our nation has just elected the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-Capitalist, and anti-Israel president in our history. In short, God has given us the kind of leader that we deserve — the kind we have been begging for. The new President now has the power to put his radical secular imprint upon this nation for decades to come through the appointment of activist liberals to the Supreme Court. I fear that our nation has been irrevocably changed for the worse.

Two factors in this election were particularly disappointing to me. First was the fact that only 59% of eligible voters bothered to vote. That was less than in the last presidential election. How could people be so apathetic in an election so important? The second voting statistic that hit me hard was the revelation that even among self-identified Evangelicals, the majority voted according to economic considerations rather than moral ones.The financial woes of our nation are not going to be solved by any economic strategy, for they are rooted in our spiritual rebellion against God. We cannot kill babies in their mother's wombs, promote same-sex marriage, produce filthy movies and TV programs, worship the dollar, and pressure Israel to give up its heartland, and expect God to bless our economy. Our economy will be healed only when we as a nation get right with God."

Here, here, brother. Couldn't have said it better myself. Sometimes it seems we like our money better than we like our Lord. Priorities have to change. (And I wonder if the other 41% would have voted, would that have changed the outcome?)

Here's a link to David Reagan's website. He's an end time prophecies brainiac. He spoke at Oakwood at the Fall Bible Conference about 4 years ago. http://www.lamblion.com/

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Get real

I think that all that we deal with in regards to families these days are direct results of the devil's attack on the way God wanted families to be. Homosexual rights, fragmented families, divorce being so rampant, "domestic partnerships", it's all a part of Satan's plan to thwart God's intention for the family. I've dealt with yet another marriage this week that's on the rocks. Married for 15 years, 2 kids, and what gets me is that this has been going on for years and no one knew about it. They never reached out to anyone in their church or otherwise. Maybe it was because of embarrassment or maybe it's just the fact that many Christians think that they need to act like they have it all together and put on their churchy happy face when inside their dying because their marriage is on the brink of divorce. I don't know, but that's what I want to change most about Oakwood as a church of God. Let's take off the masks and be real. Let's be able to look each other in the eye and admit that we're not perfect and that God is still working on us. Let's be able to reach out to each other and help each other. Oh, that we would know that we can talk to each other about real stuff without fearing judgement or pretending. This is the church that I see in the New Testament and this is the church that, with God's help, might just save the family unit in the future. A church culture of realness...how about that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day of Reckoning

Today is the day of reckoning for America. I've felt this way for weeks now. This election may decide whether we are to remain "One nation, under God". This election will determine if we are a Christian nation or not. This may be the one where God steps back a little bit and says, "Alright then, have it your way." We've asked God to leave our schools, our government , our subjective morality, and to leave us alone. God is always sovereign and in control. I think that lately he feels like we don't really want him anymore as a nation. There is so much on the line here. I'm just praying and begging that God's will be done. Tomorrow we will all wake up and there will be a new elected president. We must remember though, no matter our circumstances, when we get up tomorrow, God will still be on the throne!!! That's something to celebrate, regardless of the outcome of this election!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Encouragement

Thought this was great and wanted to share it with everyone:

Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams to be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark.

Today I will make a difference.

I will be grateful for the twenty‐four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self‐pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.

I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It’s OK to stumble; I will get up. It’s OK to fail; I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.

I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.

TODAY I WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!!! (From On the Anvil by Max Lucado)

FOL was great

Festival of Light went without a hitch on Friday night. It was great to see so many come through our Halloween alternative. It's amazing how when you change your view of people, and see them like Jesus saw them, how that can change how you relate to the lost. We saw a huge crowd of people with many issues Friday night, but I also saw our people loving on the lost. That will have impact that echoes into eternity someday. When the time comes, God waters the seed and grows it into what He wants it to be. I think that I speak for the whole church when I say, I'm just glad to be a part of what He's doing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Excited

I'm super excited about tomorrow night. It's one of our biggest outreaches of the year. So many people will come through our doors. I feel that we are more strategic this year than we've ever been in seeing how this can better build bridges and impact lives for the Lord. I'm excited to see what God is going to do through all of this. Festival of Light is not an Eric deal or a Dan deal or an Oakwood deal; it's a God deal. I'm just praying that our people and the people who are coming in for this remember that. I'm also praying that God does His thing through us, His servants. I'm excited to be a part of this. I hope that everyone at our church is as excited as I am.

We'll see a lot tomorrow night. We'll have ghosts, goblins, witches and scary costumes, but I always try to put it in perspective with this...behind each of those masks and costumes is a person, a person with a heart and soul that God created. These kids need Jesus just as much as any of our church kids. We have to love them in spite of their decisions on costume or whatever else we see. These souls are crying out for love and acceptance so many times. Tomorrow night is our opportunity to share God's love with each and every person. I think that God has us up to the task. I'm hoping that many will come and join us for Festival of Light!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

FOL

Festival of Light, our HUGE Halloween alternative is this Friday night. I'm already getting excited about what God is going to do through this outreach. Every year we get feedback from families that so appreciate a safe Halloween alternative to door to door trick-or-treating. We actually do door to door trick-or-treating in our building as children and families go from one door to the next receiving candy from our great volunteers. You don't know how much an event like this impacts people until you hear some of the testimonials that we get. We've had many families touched by this outreach and many families come to our church. I've even seen FOL as a starting point for a turn-around in some people's lives. I'm excited and prayerful about how God will use this year's event to impact people for the Kingdom.

Monday, October 27, 2008

So that's why I keep doing this....

Amy and I were so blessed last night. We took our Pastor Appreciation cards and gifts from our box and took them home to read them. As we looked over each of the cards and read the penned words from each person, we were blessed to remember that we are used by God as a small part of His plan to change people's lives and help them see God for who He really is. It's a huge blessing to get to hear how God has used you to impact different lives. It's one of those moments where God allows you to see some fruit from your work for Him. I so appreciate the kind words and the encouragement. It's one of those times where Amy and I were both reminded, so that's why I keep doing this. Many thanks to God and His great church at Oakwood for all of the encouragement and kindness. Many more thanks for God allowing us to be a part of what he's doing in Enid at Oakwood.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Birthday Boy!

Today is my 33rd birthday! Everyone keeps asking me if I feel older and honestly, other than on paper, I really don't. I'm enjoying the weather change today with the fresh, crisp fall air and enjoying the cards, gifts, e-mails, and phone calls. I praise God for my health, my family, and this great fellowship of believers where God has called me to serve. It's been a good 33rd so far!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Funny Bumper Stickers

Amy and I were heading back from Madalyn's parent-teacher conference last night and saw the funniest thing on the back of a minivan at a stoplight. The van had a bumper sticker that said "Hillary for President" and now right beside it was a McCain/Palin sticker. Just struck us as kind of funny, having those stickers side by side on the back of a vehicle.

The upcoming election is very important. You can drive around and see stickers, signs in yards, etc. It's that time of year. As I drive and see signage I like to think about what those signs represent. They all represent different people with totally different approaches, plans, and agendas. As we come to the election time, we ought not look to who will be better for the economy, etc. as the world and the media would like for us to. The real issue to consider is who will be the most Godly leader? Who will do their best to live up to His standards? Who will protect the things that God holds dear, like human life? These considerations should far outweigh any others if we are truly seeking to please God with our vote. I'm praying for this election and praying that God will help move people toward voting a way that pleases Him most.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When the Spirit moves

Watch out. God's spirit moves when you least expect it. Today's time of invitation in our church service was a great example. We had sung a verse and a chorus and no one was coming forward. I'm not the type to ever "shut down" the invitation, but I'm also not the type to extend it forever till someone comes forward. As we began to sing the second verse, one came, then another, then another, and the next thing I knew the whole front was filled with people being ministered to. It blesses me so much to see so many of our elders and staff talking to these people, praying for these people, and truly loving on them as Christ loved on us. It's great to see so many people from our congregation come forward to help, and listen, and pray as their brothers and sisters in Christ come forward to make decisions and ask for prayer. It nearly brought tears to my eyes a couple of times as I could see God's Spirit move on His people. If you were there, then you definitely know what I mean. Just goes to show me again that God operates on His terms, in His time, and as a servant of His, you just better be ready. Sometimes when you least expect it and your about to close things down...He shows up big...and the Spirit moves...and once again God shows you what happens when you open your heart to Him. I pray that every person in our church would be open to God's spirit and His leading in their lives! Amen!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marriages

I talked to someone (not from our church) on Friday who told me she was getting a divorce from her husband of over 12 years. They were supposed to sign the papers today sometime. With the weather today, whew, what a memory! (Cold, windy, and rainy) It hit me late this afternoon with the weather changes, the cold air, and the wind and rain that this represents how God feels about broken marriages. He cries for them. He hates divorce. It ruins the union that he intended. It's sad. It breaks my heart to see how broken families function (or dysfunction, rather). When will we learn that doing marriages God's way is the best way?

The church has to do it's part to try to build strong marriages from the beginning through pre-marital services. We also must be there for couples as life comes and they are struggling. We need divorce care ministries in the church to help people function and repair their hearts. I'm no wise man. I'm not all knowing. I don't have all of the answers.

I'll just keep praying....

Friday, October 10, 2008

TGIF

Been a long week. I'm glad it's Friday. I've been getting to bed about 1AM this week and getting up at 6:30AM. Needless to say it's catching up with me. Finished the message for this weekend last night at about 12:45AM. I'm excited about it. We're talking about Marital Parasites.

Madalyn is doing the Enid High Mini-Cheer tonight. She gets to cheer at halftime with the Enid High Cheerleaders. She's pretty excited and I'm excited for her. I'm also excited to get to go to a football game with my girls.

I'm thankful it's Friday. I love Fridays for another reason. Uptown Subs has my favorite sub on special on Fridays, the Italian, 8 inch on wheat. I hope I can talk Amy into it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Financial Independence

Thought that I'd share this. I got this from Barry Cameron this week. He's Senior Pastor at a Christian church in Texas. Read it and comment.

OUR DECLARATION OF FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE.
1. We will spend less than we earn. Saving a little out of every dollar we bring home is the foundation of independence. Without it, we can’t build equity in our home, we can’t invest for the future, and we can’t be ready for challenging times. We promise to pay ourselves first, always.
2. We will use our home as a savings account. Besides shelter and comfort for our family, the role of a house in our financial life is to build equity. We will have a healthy down payment when we buy. We’ll choose the mortgage that lets us pay down the principal fastest. And then we’ll leave that equity safe where it is instead of spending it on things that don’t last.
3. We will take care of our money. It’s not enough to have money in a bank. We will put it where it will grow. We’ll keep track of it. And we’ll check every account we have every year to protect ourselves against fraud or escheatment.
4. We will defend our credit worthiness. Good credit is going to be precious in the years to come. We will pay our bills on time. We’ll borrow only when we need to and in amounts we can comfortably pay back. And then we’ll do just that.
5. We will ignore unsolicited credit card marketing. We decide when we need a credit card, not some marketer. And mostly, we probably don’t need another one at all. We won’t even open those solicitations. We’ll shred them.
6. We will know the cost of borrowing. The interest lenders charge us is real money, too. When we buy a mortgage or finance a purchase, we’ll figure out what that interest is really going to cost in dollars, add it to the purchase price, and ask ourselves if it’s still worth it.
7. We will invest for the long term. Futures are built out of patience and prudence, not luck. We will not put off being a saver because we think there’s a lottery win in our future, in Vegas or on Wall Street.
8. We will take care of the things we have. We work hard for our money, and it’s disrespectful to waste it - or the planet - by treating our possessions as disposable.
9. We will remember what matters. We are not the things we own. If we have to spend and spend on bigger, more impressive things to keep up with our friends, then they are not our friends at all.
Saving is something we’re not very good at here in America. Even Christians, who believe Jesus saves, struggle to save anything for themselves financially on a weekly or monthly basis. The Bible clearly says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers it little by little makes it grow.” Personally, before I would ever put my John Hancock on any declaration of financial independence, the item that would have to be at the top of the list - the #1 Priority would have to be this:
10. I will be at least a tither of my income and put God first! Why? Because God promises to “throw open the floodgates of Heaven and pour out so much blessing we won’t have enough room for it” (Malachi 3:10).

In Malachi 3:8-9, God said the whole nation was under a curse because they were robbing Him in tithes and offerings. Maybe the best bailout plan and rescue package for America would be to get people to obey God, delete greed, and start giving.

Just a thought.

She Walks...More & More

Just so everyone in blogland knows, Isabel is walking almost all the time now. It was off and on, then 50/50. Last week on Wednesday night in the church nursery, she decided to walk almost the entire hour. Now she walk about 95% of the time. It's really cute. She toddles like she's got weights on her feet. She's doing great and growing like a weed. Thought I'd get the word out.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Feeling Prayed For

Have you ever just had the feeling that people were praying for you? I had that feeling on Sunday afternoon and evening and all day today. My spirit and countenance have just been uplifted today. There's a peace that comes when you know that fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord are praying for you, not just saying they will, but actually doing it. Amazing! I just want to thank God for being a Savior that loves and cares for all of us personally. I want to thank brothers and sisters in Christ who are truly brothers and sisters who encourage and uplift me every day. I hope that every person in our church knows the assurance and confidence that comes from knowing that someone is praying for you. I pray for the spiritual growth of our church every day. God is doing that work in people's hearts. And I'm feeling prayed for.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Candy Mixin' & Maddy's B-day

Abigail and Madalyn are next door to my office right now in the "candy room" mixing candy for Festival of Light. It's that time of year and I learned several years ago that you have to get started early on mixing or it will sneak up on you. The girls have a blast mixing it and it makes them feel important and a part of the team, I think. Just goes to show that anyone can do service for the Lord, even a 3 year old and a 6, well, now 7 year old.

Madalyn's 7th birthday is today. She's pretty jazzed about it. She picked her "special meal" tonight of mac and cheese and blueberry muffins. Friend party tomorrow night and family party on Saturday night. Big weekend, none the less. Isabel's first birthday is Saturday, so we got 2 real close together here. It's a lot of fun.

Mommy dressed Maddy up cute in a shirt today that said "Birthday Girl" on the front of it. Amy is always good at making birthdays and holidays special for everyone. When I picked Madalyn up at school today, she had a balloon bouquet that she had received while in class. When she got in the car I asked her who gave it to her and she said that it was from Glenwood (the name of her school). I said "What? Did you read the card, girl?" She said that the outside of it said Glenwood, which it did. I proceeded to ask why she thought that Glenwood School would buy her balloons for her birthday and nobody else on theirs. She told me with a very straight face, "I thought it was because they read my t-shirt." Needless to say, I laughed all the way home. Too cute from my 7 year old. Grandpa and Grandma had supplied the balloons. Too funny!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

30th Anniversary Pic

Here's a pic from the 30th anniversary weekend. This was everyone who was at the reunion from the "youth group of the 90's era", except for Tricia Coontz and my wife. Pretty decent looking group after all these years. Bob and Robin Beltz are in the middle. They were our youth ministers for all of those tough teenage years.

First Message

I was so excited to share my first message with the people at Oakwood today. I felt like God had been working with me on it for 2 weeks now. It was time to "let it all out!" It was truly a blessing. I appreciated the elders and church body coming forward and praying for me. It's great to feel so loved on and supported by so many. I got a little teary-eyed during the prayer time. When I stood up, I asked Tracy, the head elder, "And I'm supposed to preach after that?" It was a defining moment in my life and ministry. There are many people who are very near and dear to my heart who are praying and pulling for me as God's man to lead Oakwood and it's very humbling to been in that position. But then again, I think that's exactly where God wants me to be, on my knees before Him.

Thank you God for using me. I pray that I would please you first and foremost as I serve in this position.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Leave a comment

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Over, Rover

The 30th anniversary is over. It was a great 4 days. It was great to have new and old faces alike in our services. Now it's time to spread the gospel and disciple people. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm ready to get on with it (after I sleep for a couple of days, I'm tired!).

I'm praying that everyone in our church will be here this Sunday. I'm excited about the message and excited about what God will do through it. It's one of those "foundational" ones that will blaze the path for us as we move ahead. I'm excited and humbled to be the Senior Pastor at such a great church. I'm just ready to now do what I feel God has wired me for and been getting ready for me to do for years...lead!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Memories

It's been a good weekend. Many people from the past history of our church were able to join us for the 30th celebration. It's always good to remember the people who were a part of your faith development. God puts special people in all of our lives as we pursue Him. These people are the true friends that encourage us in the faith and push us forward in Christ. They are also the people who are there for you in the really tough times. Sometimes I wish that those REAL relationships would be more quickly fostered inside the church today. Which begs 2 questions: Who is your spiritual mentor? AND Who are you encouraging in the faith?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Declutterization

As I've moved offices this week, I've begun to declutter my office a bit. Well, truthfully, I've decluttered a whole lot. With a nice push from my wife, we've accomplished a lot! (Well, maybe it was a shove perhaps). It's hard to part with things sometimes. It's hard to let books, souvenirs, trinkets, decorations the things that are a part of our life that we do not want to part with. I was sad when I had to see a few KC Chiefs items go to His Helping Hands today. But afterward, the pain is gone. When I go into my new office now, it seems cleaner and spacious. My drawers and trays no longer runneth over. It's been more freeing than painful. Now I'm in the "get rid of it" mode and my wife is milking it for all it's worth. But it's good to declutter our lives sometimes. Then we find out what we really need and what's really important. I feel freed up and less stressed. Maybe everyone should declutter (and give it to His Helping Hands)!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Amazed

How humbling and amazing has this week been. I was affirmed as the Senior Pastor of Oakwood by 93+% on Sunday. The overwhelming gamut of emotions was, well, overwhelming to Amy and I. It's a HUGE responsibility, but God is leading us in this ministry and I'm glad we get to do it here in Enid at Oakwood. With God on your team, anything is possible! This is a great church with huge potential. Now it's my job to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable as we move forward to win the lost and build the saints. I thank the Lord for everything!

So where do I go from here? I hit the ground running this week! I'm still (it's Wednesday!) trying to move offices, but other than that, life is swell. Busy days ahead and a lot of ministry. Hopefully and prayerfully, a lot of changed lives for the Kingdom too. Praise the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever!

An update on Izzy, she took about 5 steps tonight. Everyday she's getting a little braver. She does this lean forward head first thing when she'd trying to walk, but has seemed to try to walk upright tonight. We're excited. She's growing up fast.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Izzy's Standing Up

The littlest Keller was standing up last night. She's been standing for about 3 month now. But, last night, she stood with no hands. I think that she forgot about hanging on to something. She stood there for about 30 seconds holding a toy. Then, she sat down and started crawling. She can walk anytime she wants to. She's got the balance and does great behind walking toys and the like. It's just a matter of confidence I think. My prediction is 2 weeks. Within the next 2 weeks sometime the Keller household will have all walkers and no crawlers. Pretty crazy. They grow up so fast.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Maddy's First Phone Call

Madalyn had her first phone conversation today with a little friend from school. My first grader is growing up. It was really weird. When I got home from the church, she was on the phone and I assumed that she was talking to one of her Grandmas or something. Then, as I listened to the awkward conversation unfold, I realized that it must have been another fellow first grader. Needless to say, phone etiquette will need to be worked on (on both ends), but it was just weird for her daddy. It was like I flashed forward to the years ahead when sometime she would be on the phone at 14 talking to a friend.

It's amazing how fast our kids grow up and how you realize everyday that you will never turn the clock back to yesterday. So, I'm cherishing every moment as we went to the backyard and played soccer tonight. It won't be long before she won't be interested in that anymore. Time is short. Don't squander it with your kids...and always be there.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Over, Rover

Well, the day has passed and survival was had. Actually, I appreciated the Q & A time spent with the congregation on Sunday. The line of questioning was mainly excellent, and I enjoyed being able to share my heart and vision for God's church. This Sunday is the vote and that is the easy part for me. Amy and I have nothing to do with that. God is in control of the outcome there and it will be what God wants it to be. I'm just humbled to be His servant, wherever He decides to put me.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Big Day

Tomorrow afternoon is the big Q & A session. I'm looking forward to it from the standpoint of being able to share the vision and direction that God has given me for Oakwood. On the other hand, it's very nerve-racking from the standpoint that you can be asked anything (plus it's an open forum so anything can happen). Just praying for God's speed to get Amy and I through this time. I'm looking forward to the future and hope that as we arrive there, we will be able to look back at all of this and smile.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When people join

This past week has been a blessing to me. I love it when you see God tangibly at work, moving in the hearts of His people. I had several people come forward to talk about serving in ministry after last week's message. I'm excited how God is going to use these willing workers to further His plan and purposes for saving the lost.

On Sunday we had 1 individual and 2 families join the fellowship at Oakwood. It is good to see the commitment from new people as they join us to further the Gospel and to have fellowship with an awesome body of believers. I'm excited whenever God brings any new people into our fellowship. It means that there is new growth and a possibility for expansion of ministry through new people. I'm thankful for being a very small part of what God is doing and for Him allowing all of us to see it!

I love this church. God has used it in the past to do great and mighty things. I'm praying everyday that God will do more of His great and mighty things in the very near future. I think that perhaps we are starting to see it right now. Praise God! I'm just happy to be a part of what He is already doing!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Well, well

Abigail is well. Just thought that I'd update in case you read the last blog. Her fever broke about noon today and she's back to being our little sparkplug. Thanks for your prayers and thank God for His goodness!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sick kids stink!

I don't know if you've ever been a parent, but I'm here to tell you that sick kids stink. You love your kids so much that you don't want them to have pain or suffer, and when they are sick, I think that feeling is even stronger.

On the way home from church today, Abigail threw up in our van. (Make's you want to ride with us, huh?!) Bless her heart, what a place to get sick. She's down for the count with fever and aches and chills and everything else. Please pray for her and for us.

It's too bad this happened on a holiday weekend. Ah, tis life sometimes. If it can happen, it will, and when you you least expect it, that's when life in this flawed, fallen world hits.

Know that if you have sick kids, I feel your pain. We all have to go through it from time to time. But I'm reminded that God sees us and is with us, even through the pain. I'm glad that He doesn't flee when we're in need of Him more.

Praying for a sick-free week...for all of us.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kick-off

On a tip from a friend in the ministry, I've decided to blog a couple of times a week. Tim blogs about twice a week and his people love it. I guess it's because you get to see a pastor "unplugged", just being himself. No preaching, no teaching, just blogging thoughts, ideas, and talking about my life. My life is interesting, I suppose. We'll see how interesting it is to some as time goes on.

I'm excited about the days ahead. There has never been a time in my life where I have felt so driven with vision and passion and yet so humbled that God would use me in spite of myself. I think that there's a balance where God tries to keep His servants. Humbled yet confident. Broken yet together. These paradigms aren't what the world looks at for leadership. But God chooses leaders that will give Him all the glory. It just goes to show that it doesn't really matter who you are but whose you are when you serve the King.

Exciting days ahead...I can't wait!